Penguins: Grading how each team did in the Erik Karlsson trade

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 26: Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks poses with the James Norris Memorial Trophy during the 2023 NHL Awards at Bridgestone Arena on June 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 26: Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks poses with the James Norris Memorial Trophy during the 2023 NHL Awards at Bridgestone Arena on June 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, and Montreal Canadians completed a three-team trade last Sunday that sent defenseman Erik Karlsson to the Penguins from the Sharks.

Obviously, this is a huge trade when it comes to the landscape of the entire National Hockey League as the Norris Trophy winner was traded.

The Canadians were involved to help make it work financially. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was the first one to report that the deal was close:

This Erik Karlsson trade is obviously a huge one for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Full Trade:

This trade was big one, which was always going to be the case when moving a defenseman with a cap hit of 11.5M. With that being said, here’s the full trade:

Penguins receive: Erik Karlsson (1.5M Salary retained by SJ), Rem Pitlick (Acquired from Montreal), Dillion Hamaliuk, and a 2026 third-round pick.

Sharks receive: F Mike Hoffman (Acquired from Montreal), Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, and a 2024 first-round pick (Top 10 protected).

Canadians receive: Jeff Petry, Casey Desmith, Nathan Lagare, and a 2025 second-round pick.

How did each team do?


It’s cliche to say the team that receives the best player in the trade wins it but that’s exactly what I think here.

Pittsburgh receives Karlsson who is fresh off winning the Norris Trophy and having a 100-point season. Adding Karlsson along with Kris Letang will provide Pittsburgh with one really good top pair.

Rem Pitlick had 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points last season. He’s a bottom-six center that will be able to give the Penguins some forward depth, something a team can never have too much of.

Dillion Hamaliuk was a 2019 second-round pick but has yet to break into the NHL. He played 6 games last season with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. Consider him a wildcard in this return.

Pittsburgh sending Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta to San Jose is also a win for Pittsburgh. Granlund was pretty ineffective in Pittsburgh, scoring just 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points in 21 games played.

Jan Rutta played 56 games and was pretty ineffective offensively but was a +3 in +/- if that’s a stat you pay attention to.

Overall, the Penguins are the clear winner in this deal. They got the defending Norris Trophy winner and were able to get rid of two players that didn’t fit into their future plans. They also saved three million dollars against the cap in the process.

Kyle Dubas is off to a fast start in his Penguins career and he understands that the clock is ticking with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.

Trade Grade: A


*At the time of writing this portion of the article, Jeff Petry is a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Canadians did well here for being a third team. Casey DeSmith is a very competent goaltender and can potentially make Jake Allen or Sam Montebeault expendable.

Nathan Lagare is a 22-year-old right winger that was a third-round pick in 2019 by the Penguins. Consider him a wild card in the return like Hamaliuk. A second-round pick in 2025 shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Since the Canadians were able to acquire DeSmith to upgrade their forward core, while also being able to get rid of Mike Hoffman’s contract, I rank them as the second-place team in this trade.

Trade Grade: B 

San Jose:

If I were a Sharks fan right now, I’d be a little disappointed. Not so much because of the players they received in return but more so because of how it unfolded and what it means for them going forward.

Acquiring contracts like Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund signifies that this is going to be a long rebuild in San Jose.

The only thing I can think of with this is that San Jose is hoping these two players can put up good numbers with a lot of ice time and be flipped at the deadline for future assets.

The top 10 protected first-round pick in 2024 is nice but that pick is years away from making it to the NHL.

It’s pretty disappointing that the Sharks were unable to acquire any sort of young controllable talent in this deal, especially since they’re also retaining money.

Their prospect pool isn’t the strongest in the league and this could’ve been a good time to replenish it a bit. It’s nice that Karlsson’s contract is off the books for future cap flexibility but that’s one of the biggest positives in this deal.

Considering how little they got back while retaining salary, and the fact that this is the start of a long rebuild, I think the Sharks are the clear losers of this deal.

Trade Grade: D 

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